Childfree Piper Hoffman has a thought-provoking post. While she sees the many “pros” of not having kids, she writes a forthcoming piece about some of the “cons” she feels…
The first are more objective in nature–she does not any kind of tax credit like parents do. She does not get paid leave from work like parents do. But then she talks about more heartfelt disadvantages, starting with how it saddens her that her “lifestyle hurts her family.” She gets that she could say hey it’s their problem, they want me to have kids out of some need or desire they have, but to her “the truth is that, at least for now, I feel like a disappointment to them and that saddens me. ”
Another disadvantage she feels is alienation from “peers and community.” Friends change or wane when the parents are raising kids. She won’t get to make new friends like parents do by having kids in common. Kids won’t be a potential path to becoming even closer to relatives.
Childfree blogger Ailanna does not necessarily relate to these, but puts hers forth: “the voluntary forsaking of a relationship and set of experiences that have the potential to be deeply satisfying, rewarding, and important” — emphasizing the word “potential.”
She also lists these “costs”: her free time outside of work she can do what she pleases, she’d gets to put her energy toward other things that the toward parenthood, she has a good quality of life from a financial standpoint, she’s an “evolutionary dead-end” and that is a good thing from an environmental resource standpoint, and her relationships with spouse, friends and pets don’t get neglected like they would if she were a parent.
Ok, these are tongue and cheek “costs” to be sure. But both got me revisiting my feelings on this. To me, it can be a disadvantage that the childfree may have to deal with disappointed relatives. We all have issues that need to be worked out with friends and family at some point, and this is one that can be unique to those who don’t have kids. It’s not so much the disappointment itself, but that we may need to deal with that disappointment, which can be difficult and sticky.
Another disadvantage can be having to face the challenge of maintaining friendships when parenthood enters the mix. It takes special kind of tending and cultivating from both parties to keep friendships strong, especially when the kids are young.
These two things are really unique challenges, more than disadvantages. But this one isn’t really a challenge–I’ve not shared as “big” of an experience with some dear girlfriends. Maybe we would be even closer if we had shared the experience of parenthood?
I think of my childfree girlfriends that are like sisters to me and remind myself that I have as deep of a relationship with them as I do with dear girlfriends who are parents. I also remind myself that while I was not a mother myself, I have been an ear, an ally, to parent-friends as they have dealt with parent challenges and this definitely has been an area of closeness.
So I land with no disadvantages, and see it more as facing certain kinds of challenges because of the decision I have made. Had I been a parent, I would have faced other challenges.
One thing for sure, I agree with Piper–that I am all for discussing the “disadvantages of decisions without condemnation” — between childfree to childfree or childfree and parents. More honest back and forth beween people with kids and without works toward mutual understanding–and that’s a good thing.
What about you? What do you see as disadvantages? Biggest challenges you might have not otherwise have faced?